OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Dictionary.com today announced its latest new words addition, updating more than 15,000 entries in the company’s largest release to date. The release includes 650 brand new entries, along with thousands of new and revised definitions, etymologies, and pronunciations. From dictionary-wide changes that highlight the evolution of the English language over time, including the addition of whole-person language for suicide and addiction, to new additions that capture trends in culture and technology, the update reflects a significant year of change as seen through language.
“The work of a dictionary is more than just adding new words. It’s an ongoing effort to ensure that how we define words reflects changes in language—and life,” said John Kelly, Senior Editor at Dictionary.com. “Among our many new entries are thousands of deeper, dictionary-wide revisions that touch us on our most personal levels: how we talk about ourselves and our identities, from race to sexual orientation to mental health. Our revisions are putting people, in all their rich humanity, first, and we’re extremely proud of that.”
Dictionary-wide changes reflect changing language usage
Site-wide updates include changes made to language surrounding race and ethnic identity. Dictionary.com capitalized Black, affecting hundreds of entries across the dictionary, as a mark of respect and recognition that’s in line with capitalizing other cultures and ethnicities. A separate entry for Black, as it refers to a person, was also added, breaking with dictionary conventions to group together words that share the same origin. This change reflects Dictionary.com’s point of view that language entries have consequences and go beyond being simply an academic exercise. Additionally, a number of new words have been added relating to race and ethnicity, including Afro-Latina, Afro-Latino, Afro-Latinx, brownface, Filipina, Filipinx, Pinay, Pinoy, and Pinxy.
LGBTQIA language site-wide was revised to change instances of homosexual to gay and homosexuality to gay sexual orientation. The changes were made to the previously clinical language, now placing the focus on people and removing the implication of a medical diagnosis, sickness, or pathology when describing normal human behaviors and ways of being. Additionally, all -sexual words, including bisexual and pansexual, were updated from “romantically or sexually attracted to” to “romantically, emotionally, or sexually attracted to.” Broadening these definitions better reflects the complexity and richness of the experiences of these identities and helps eliminate heterosexual bias as the unmarked, default experience. Related terms with new or revised definitions include ace, asexual, deadname, gender-inclusive, Pride (which also has a separate entry and is capitalized site-wide in relevant references), they, them, their, theirs, themself, and trans+.
Dictionary.com also revised all entries to update language used around both suicide and addiction in order to eliminate language that implies moral judgement or incorporates historical prejudice. All use of the language commit suicide was removed and replaced, where relevant, with die by suicide and end one’s life, while new or revised definitions in line with these changes were added for suicide and poison pill. All instances of addict as a noun were replaced with person addicted to or habitual user of, with additional new or revised definitions for user, alcohol use disorder, lush, and dipsomaniac.
New words from af to zhuzh
Dictionary.com’s latest release goes beyond updated language for existing terms, adding hundreds of new entries relating to animals, the environment, culture, and technology.
Many additions are influenced by trends in social media and popular culture. New entries on Dictionary.com include abbreviations that are popular as social shorthand, such as af, DGAF, and GOAT, along with slang terms amirite, jabroni, and janky. New entries also incorporate beauty and fashion trends, with official entries for those who want to zhuzh up their look through contouring. Other culture terms added or updated reflect complex societal issues, like emotional labor, dead white male, and MeToo, while others include terms that highlight the influence of streaming platforms and social media sharing, such as gender reveal, ratio, sharent, swole, and Twitch.
There are several new entries for the different types of animals that help people physically, emotionally, and cognitively, including assistance animal, comfort animal, companion animal, emotional support animal, service animal, and therapy animal. While a number of these terms may be used interchangeably, and many of them serve similar roles, there are distinct differences in terms of their legal status, training, person served, and the domains in which they help. These differences are key in understanding and respecting our relationships with the communities they serve that are too often invisible—such as mental health and disability.
A number of new words reflect environmental issues, such as ecoanxiety, critically endangered, and extinct in the wild, as well as work being done to protect planet Earth, including cap and trade, emissions trading, conservation dependent, and conservation status.
“2020 has been a year of change like never before, affecting how we live, work, interact—and how we use language,” said Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, CEO of Dictionary.com. “Our biggest release yet represents a tireless commitment from our entire team not only to documenting how language evolves, but ensuring our users always find the meaning they need on Dictionary.com.”
More insight on these updates, along with the full list of additions, can be found here.
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